This week, on Dec. 16, the Tolko sawmill in Merritt, B.C. will close its sawmill operation, laying off 203 employees, citing a shortage of timber available to continue the operation of Nicola Valley Sawmill, which is one of the two major sawmill operations remaining in this Interior B.C. city.
The other Tolko operation to shut down is located in The Pas, Man., where 332 employees will be out of work.
Tolko announced this operation is not financially sustainable.
With the annual allowable cut of merchantable timber due to be reduced in the Cariboo, will Tolko see it necessary to terminate its operation in Williams Lake, or cut back to one sawmill operation?
Has a dialogue started with the city and/or the union, to prepare for the impact of the job loss for mill workers, loggers and other allied industries dependent on the forest industry?
The woods industry got its start in 1947 when Lignum Ltd. established its planer mill near the Williams Lake Cemetery at Mackenzie Avenue and Comer Street.
At that time Mackenzie Avenue was known as Railway Avenue, which was also part of Highway 97, the main road to commuters north of Williams Lake in the province of B.C.
Perhaps it is time to beat the drum and activate the Prosperity Mine project in the Chilcotin, while at the same time, look to improve our utilization of the forests remaining for harvest in the Cariboo and B.C. in general.